BREAKING? BROKEN! Three Agencies Tackle Jordan Cove

May 29, 2018

Hot news: One key Oregon agency and two Federal have launched formal comment periods on the combined Jordan Cove Energy Project & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (together, JCPC).  So now Round Three of this abominable project, opposed by most Oregonians, gets real!

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must evaluate JCPC under the Clean Water Act §401, which gives states broad, definitive authority to assess the risk of unacceptable damage to water quality.  If DEQ denies JCPC’s application for the §401 permit, it cannot be built.  Pacific Connector (PCGP) would cross almost 500 wetlands, waterways, streams, and rivers; Jordan Cove (JCEP) needs the largest dredging project for any coastal bay or estuary in Oregon history.  What could possibly go wrong with  that?

Proposed Jordan Cove Construction Site-OPB-EarthFix

The site of the proposed JCEP fracked-gas export terminal on (and in) Coos Bay.  Photo: Earthfix.

DEQ has struggled mightily in recent years, with undercutting by the Legislature and notable failures on air pollution especially.  But it seems to be on a better path now… Is it going to “break” under the pressure of the largest construction scheme of any kind in Oregon history? — or do its duty to fully protect Oregon’s people, land, and water?

Simultaneously, working in rough tandem with DEQ, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tasked with assessing potential water quality damage by JCPC from removal and fill operations during construction, under the Clean Water Act §404.

The Corps is known for its by-the-numbers rigidity, but occasionally that has shown benefits.  Will they do the right thing?

And in a timing coincidence, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has launched a review of its fracked-gas pipeline approval procedures, as structured under the Natural Gas Act.  The new Trump-regime FERC wants comments from industry — but fortunately, by law, they also must accept comments from the millions of people and thousands of communities being damaged by fracking, pipelines, and that industry’s contribution to climate change.

FERC-Francis Eatherington-September 2015

Oregon activist Francis Eatherington participated in a protest fast at the FERC headquarters in Washington, D.C., in 2015.  Photo: Ted Gleichman

FERC has clearly been “broken” under Trump, and was designed to be inherently pro-industry.  It was only rarely helpful under prior presidents.  We are focused on a long slog toward reform into making FERC serve our true needs for the just transition; how much impact can we have on it now?

Sierra Club has been working actively, both locally and nationally, against fracked-gas infrastructure for years.  Please click here to help #FixFERC!

We have more than a month on each of these comment periods — we’ll stay in touch on how to get involved and write powerful comments to these agencies. 

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, Oregon Chapter
Member, National Strategy Team, Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign


Join Our Team as a Volunteer Treasurer!

May 3, 2018

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Are you looking for hands-on experience with the behind-the-scenes work of running a major non-profit? Are you computer savvy? Do you want to join the team of Oregon’s largest grassroots environmental organization? If so, the Oregon Sierra Club needs you!

We are looking for a skilled and dedicated volunteer to join our team as Treasurer beginning June 2018. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to learn more about non-profit budgeting and financial management while providing much-needed support to our organization. The Treasurer will have the opportunity to be trained by National Sierra Club, our bookkeeper, and our outgoing volunteer Treasurer.

Requirements:

  • Commit 8-10 hours a month, with a yearly increase from January to March to create an IRS/National Annual Report
  • Live in Oregon and attend quarterly board meetings (The position is remote, though if the Treasurer lives in Portland they are welcome to work out of our office)
  • Experience with QuickBooks, Excel, and general computing
  • Understand budgeting, including tracking of revenue and expenses, and compiling cash flow projections of up to two years.
  • Communicate clearly, effectively, and regularly with the Chapter board, staff, bookkeeper, volunteer leaders, and Sierra Club National financial staff.

Professional accounting or other finance experience is a plus, but not required.

To apply or for additional information, please contact Board Chair, Drew Kerr, at kerr.drew@gmail.com or 312-375-6104 by Monday, May 14. We look forward to hearing from you!


Art Feeds Our Souls, Science Builds Our Wisdom, Unity Makes Us Strong

April 27, 2018

Coming Together Against the Fracked-Gas Pipeline & Jordan Cove Export Scheme
By Ted Gleichman

The struggle for a just transition toward sane culture moves on many fronts. Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a community TV discussion on the Jordan Cove Energy Project and the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (JC/PC).

Host Jim Lockhart interviews activists on a long-time volunteer-staffed show, A Growing Concern, which airs live on public access channels.  Then he posts the interviews to YouTube.  He invited me to update him, and we asked outstanding Indigenous artist Ka’ila Farrell-Smith to join us.

Ka'ila Farrell-Smith

Ka’ila Farrell-Smith in Cienfuegos, Cuba, 2017. Photo: Cale Christi

Ka’ila is a member of The Klamath Tribes (and participated in Standing Rock). For years, she has used her superb artistic and presentation talents and skills to strengthen the heart and soul of the movement against Pacific Connector and Jordan Cove – and the quest for the essence of cultural and social health.

The Wocus Gathers-Ka'ila Farrell-Smith-2013

The Wocus Gatherers – Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, 2013, 90″ x 66″. This painting evokes the traditional Indigenous harvest of edible lotus bulbs in the Klamath-Modoc-Yahooskin wetlands and lakes.

The three of us dove deep in a 35-minute investigation, which we launched with a video from the brilliant students at Sunnyside Environmental School. We agreed that I would then frame the crisis, Ka’ila would share her heritage and examples of her work, and Jim would blend the dialogue. It was a lovely evening.

We hope that you too will find meaning in the video of our exploration:

A Growing Concern: Jordan Cove LNG Project & Pipeline

Thanks to all who care!

Ted Gleichman
Policy Advisor, Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, Oregon Sierra Club
Member, National Strategy Team, Beyond Dirty Fuels Priority Campaign
tedgleichman.oregon.sierraclub.org

After Boarding School-In Mourning-Ka'ila Farell-Smith

After Boarding School: In Mourning. Painting, Ka’ila Farrell-Smith, 2011, 36″ x 24.” Permanent Collection, Portland Art Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 


From Mountains to Salmon – Let’s Protect our Wild Spaces

April 19, 2018

Perhaps the greatest aspect of living in the Pacific Northwest is the majestic, lush, and ecologically diverse wild spaces that surround us. Here at the Oregon Sierra Club, we are motivated by this beauty, especially when this natural beauty continues to be under attack by corporate interests and the federal government. From towering mountains to migrating salmon, we’re fighting for what makes our home great — making sure that wild spaces remain wild and public lands remain public, for generations to come.

In the next few weeks, we are excited to be sponsoring some important (and fun!) educational events in Portland about preserving and protecting the Pacific Northwest. Hope to see you there!

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Tale of Two Rivers

Thursday, April 26, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
The EcoTrust Building (721 NW 9th Ave, Suite 200, Portland)

An evening of conversation about Northwest salmon, orcas, and people, and rivers and dams and lessons learned—with a focus on the Elwha River in western Washington and the lower Snake River in eastern Washington. Featuring three renowned Northwest natural resource reporters Lynda Mapes (Seattle Times); Rocky Barker (Idaho Statesman) and Jeff Renner (formerly of KING5).

A reception proceeding the program will feature appetizers, wine, beer and non-alcoholic beverages. Admission is $10 and tickets are quickly running out – so RSVP today!

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Public Lands Town Hall with Representative Blumenauer

Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 – 8:00 PM (Doors open at 6:00 PM)
KEEN (515 NW 13th Ave, Portland)

Join Congressman Earl Blumenauer (Oregon’s 3rd District) for a Town Hall about the state of our public lands in the current political climate. Come to learn about the various anti-public lands bills in Congress, the on-going efforts to expand protections for public lands, and the current status of Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Free beer and light snacks will be available, as well as ways to get involved with groups fighting to protect our public lands. Learn more about the event and register here.


Volunteer Spotlight: Gregory Monahan

March 29, 2018

Gregory!On any given day, you can find Gregory working in the office on the Portland Clean Energy Fund (PCEF) ballot initiative, recruiting and training volunteers as the Oregon Chapter’s Volunteer Coordinator for the campaign. He’s been volunteering with the Chapter for 3 years, and found his way into the environmental movement after being tasked with teaching climate change and sustainability to engineering students at Portland Community College over a decade ago. (Later on, he made those topics a requirement for all students on the engineering track at PCC.)

Upon learning the science behind the impending climate crisis, Gregory diagnosed himself with what he calls the “green blues,” a deep despair for the vast problems plaguing our world, which can only be cured by activism. He’s been non-stop ever since. “I tend to go all in or not at all,” he laughed.

What excites Gregory about PCEF is how clearly the initiative would address the intersection of what he called the four major problems plaguing our country: racism, a broken democracy, income inequality, and climate change. “None of these problems can be solved individually,” he told me. “It will take a system-level, movement-building approach to transition to a just, equitable, and sustainable world.”

The Chapter’s Clean Energy Task Force, of which Gregory is a member of the Steering Committee, became inspired by the concept of a Beloved Community, a term popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement. Their vision is to create a Beloved Community of volunteers – where all working on this historic initiative feel welcomed, supported, and valued. (Want to be one of those team members? Learn more and sign up here!)

“Let’s look at climate change this way: We’re on an airplane that we know is going to crash. Look around look at your fellow passengers: there will be people running around screaming and those raiding the cocktail bar. Then there’s the people doing something about it: moving their collective weight to the left and right of the plane so we bellyflop rather than nose dive. And while we’re going down on this plane, moving our weight back and forth, we might as well radically shift the culture we’re in and love each other.

— Gregory Monahan

Fun facts about Gregory

  • He holds a Master’s degree in engineering and a PhD in electromagnetics. He’s held a variety of different jobs throughout his life, including car mechanic, carpenter, electrical engineer, building contractor, private school manager, and engineering instructor at Portland Community College.
  • Soon he’ll be finishing up a 6-month course called Awakening to Whiteness at the Zen Community of Oregon. “If you want to change the world,” he says, “You have to start by changing yourself. I am a 73-year-old white male who has benefited from our culture of a white, male, heterosexual dominated society. I have learned so much about my personal privilege and the undeniable ongoing existence of racism in our present-day culture.”
  • He and his wife Amy have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren – all who live in Portland.
  • “I’m a deacon in the church of early!,” you may hear him say, as he always arrives at least a half hour early to events.
  • As a self-described “JewBu,” or Jewish-Buddhist, his favorite quote is from Rabbi Tarfon, who lived over 2,000 years ago: “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either.”
  • Gregory’s currently reading: Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions, edited by Denise Fairchild and Al Weinrub and No Time to Spare, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Jordan Cove / Pacific Connector: Welcome Back to the Wild Wild West!

February 26, 2018

By Ted Gleichman.  First of a Series.

Part One:
What in the Bloody Blue Blazes is Really Going On With the LNG Push?

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Image: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=640516

As we fight the constant brutality of the fossil fuels industry, feeling stuck in perpetual whack-a-cockroach mode, we are confronted with the fact that there is no honor among cannibals.  These exploiters know full well that we are in the throes of climate breakdown, and yet they continue at breakneck speed into the apocalypse.

Fracked gas (and oil) exploitation and export are the second-largest 21st Century energy revolution on the planet — second only to renewables.  Here’s a simplified framing for what we face: Globally, there has never been more turmoil in the present and future of the political economy of energy than there is now.  Locally, the Jordan Cove Energy Project (JCEP) & Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (PCGP) scheme exemplifies a couple of the reasons why this is happening — and shows how.

As to why:

First, the industry knows that the projects that will be stopped first are those that haven’t started yet.  As the momentum for “Keep It In the Ground” builds, human psychology and standard political operating procedures dictate that — except for traditional emergencies like explosions — shutting down existing fossil fuels infrastructure (FFI) will be hardest and happen last.  So they are getting as much new FFI under construction and putting it into service as fast as they can.  They see this as their best way to protect market share, cash flow, and stock value.

Second, they are cut-throats — not just to front-line communities and the global atmosphere, but to each other.  Again, they know the climate science and they know that stranded assets are coming (see: coal).  They also know that demand for their products will fall — so they need to be the fastest guns in this new Wild West at piling up cash now.

And part of the how:

The Jordan Cove & Pacific Connector (JC/PC) project set is a perfect example.  The last of three proposals for Oregon, and now the only one still alive on the US Lower-48 West Coast, JC/PC has fought with no scruples to market itself both as inherently good and as inevitable.

Both these claims are completely bogus, but the level of desperation within the LNG / fracked gas export industry is so high that this form of vulture capitalism fights dirty by its very nature.  This political / scientific pseudo-wizardry dovetails with the JC/PC efforts to game the federal, state, and local permitting processes to push the new agenda of the Trump regime down our throats here.

“Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain…” {The Wizard of Oz}

No Parking on the Yellow Brick Road-Wizard of Oz-Wikimedia

Photo: Smallbones-Own work, CC0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18353293

Tomorrow, two subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives (motto: “The Best Gerrymandering Big Money Can Buy”) are holding relevant hearings.  The Energy Subcommittee of the Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing is “State of the Nation’s Energy Infrastructure.”  Fracked gas and LNG will be part of the package.  Simultaneously, the Energy & Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the Committee on Natural Resources hearing is “Liquefied Natural Gas & U.S. Geopolitics.”

Globally, we need to pay attention as the Republicans in the House work to drive the atmosphere into further paroxysms of overheating and weather distortion.  Simultaneously, locally, we have learned that JC/PC has fallen a bit behind on their plan to have all construction permits in place this year, and now is aiming to be able to begin construction in March 2019.

So this may be a good time to review where we are, around the planet and in Oregon, as part of keeping on keeping on in our struggle for political and energy sanity and the Just Transition.  My hope is that this little series of short blog posts, over the coming weeks, will be useful as we Davids take on (and ultimately defeat!) these Goliaths.

Part of what we will see is that it is crazy out there — and even crazier here in Oregon.  Fracking was invented in Texas, and the West Coast of North America is key to the prospects for Jordan Cove.  So welcome to the new era of the Wild Wild West.

Coming next:

Part Two:
Making Canada Great Again?  Where Would the PCGP Fracked Gas Come From?

Ted Gleichman serves as Policy Director for the Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas & Oil Priority Campaign, and is a member of the National Strategy Team for the Sierra Club Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign. 


Legislative Update: Let’s Get Clean Energy Jobs Legislation Done!

February 26, 2018

We’re now in the back half of the madness that is a short session of the Oregon Legislature. Our primary legislative priority – the Clean Energy Jobs legislation – is still moving, though its path has become a little murkier at the moment. Nevertheless, we are hopeful that the Legislature will recognize the need to take climate action now and get this critical legislation passed this year!

The Clean Energy Jobs legislation is actually two different bills – House Bill 4001 and Senate Bill 1507. After an amazing Clean Energy Jobs lobby day on February 12 that drew nearly 500 people to the Capitol, both bills passed out of their committees of origin on February 14. The Sierra Club weighed in in support of both bills in their public hearings and also noted that we would like to see the legislation become even stronger. As noted in our testimony, we agree with our equity partners that the bills should be improved to protect our most vulnerable communities.

Our hope was that such improvements to the legislation could be made in the House and Senate Rules committees, where the bills got sent. However, an amendment has been proposed in House Rules which would legislate the emissions cap now, but save much of the rest of the hashing out of the cap-and-invest program for the 2019 session of the Legislature. We believe the Clean Energy Jobs legislation is ready to move in its entirety now and submitted testimony to that effect for the February 22 hearing.

At press time, no action had been taken yet on that amendment, so we are waiting to see what happens next. But as noted in our testimony, the bottom line is that we can wait no longer, and delaying action on a climate bill is not in the best interest of our communities, climate, nation, or planet. Clean Energy Jobs must pass in the 2018 session in the strongest possible form; we’ll continue working to try to make that happen.

And while Clean Energy Jobs has been our major focus in the Legislature, we’ve also been working on a few other issues. Unfortunately, the fairly strong bill to address oil trains in our state (HB 4004) met an untimely demise in committee, though a much more timid attempt to address oil train safety remains alive as part of SB 1518. A bill to prohibit the construction of a bridge in the Deschutes River State Scenic Waterway (HB 4029) passed out of committee and went to Ways and Means. HB 4126 would address the disposal of household hazardous waste and it too is being considered in the Ways and Means committee. That committee also has the Home WRAP bill, HB 4121, which will provide Oregonians with incentives for home weatherization and solar energy installation.

So, with roughly a week and a half left of the 2018 session, much still remains to be done in the waning days of the legislature. We’re hopeful that we can accomplish some victories large and small before the final gavel falls. You can help by contacting your legislators to help push these important bills across the line! Thanks so much for your help, and stay tuned for more details!